If you are new to the highs and lows that are boldly printed on the stave of life, before deciding that you ARE giong to be a hit sensation and pouring all your money into studios and photo shoots, I suggest you do one thing. Go to the pub.
Now pubs are good for a multitude of things: reflection, socialising, getting rather (ranging to) very drunk and providing a forum for other means of entertainment... I am of course referring to the Open Mic Night!
The reason I emplore musicians to do this... To put it bluntly... Is to see if you are actually any good, because we've all met that guy who thrives off being a musician when we all know he should stick to his day job.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! LEARNING SMOKE ON THE WATER AND PLAYING IT BADLY DOES NOT MAKE YOU A MUSICAL GOD!!!
The open mic night gives you a great opportunity to test yourself, meet new musicians, research musical trends, (and my personal favorite) fail midsong.
'Why' you ask? Well, the reality of playing music is that you will not play everything perfectly every time. If you do, then I congratulate you for all your hard work, go and plug yourself into a wall to recharge as you're obviously not human.
When I was younger if I made a mistake playing in my room I would restart. When I sat my grade exams, the assessor would make me go back to the Coda or (again) restart. So having an audience infront of you really helps you break that habbit. Furthermore it helps develop recovery techniques.
Did you know: many guitar licks and solos have actually been formed/developed by mistakes made and the artist fumbling back to thier correct place.
For some, the open mic can be a source of competition. There will come the day, after your first set, sombody will step up and make all your practice and hard work look like it was wasted time... It's a well known fact that there will often be someone who is better. Now rather than allowing anger, shame or a newly flawed pride take over you, get back up there and play your heart out! Aim to beat your last performance and learn from the person before you, feed on the energy leftover from the crowd. When you hit the midpoint where the song is playing itself and you notice you're carrying the flow of the night on your strings, I assure you, it's a feeling that comes with no words.
9 times out of 10 you will realise you're not competing with the other artists but with yourself, The other artists just act as an advocate between your levels of performance. It's also through Open Mics' that you can make a living (by building your fan base, making those important contacts and selling your CD’s). don't get me wrong, the world of online media is a great way to communicate with and monitor your fan base, but it is a tool and it won't always bring in the money. Going out, being a part of it, meeting other entertainers and event organisers on the other hand, will. After a good show you'll make the books and more than likely be offered a paid night as your reputation grows.
I guess all I really can say is: Whether you're a professional or a part timer, the Open Mic Night is for the love of what you do more than anything else.
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